The Health Benefits of Olive Oil

the health benefits of olive oilOlive oil is a a monounsaturated fat, and using it instead of oils containing saturated fats or polyunsaturated fats has been associated with:

  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Inhibiting the growth of some cancers
  • Benefiting people at risk for or with diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels
  • Lessening the severity of asthma and arthritis
  • Helping your body maintain a lower weight

Heart Benefits of Olive Oil

Hardening of the arteries is called arteriosclerosis. It occurs when low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) sticks to the walls of the arteries and blood vessels. Eventually these deposits can build up and form plaque that can narrow the blood vessels and increase the work load on the heart. Overtime, this can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and antioxidants. Scientists have also identified a compound in olive oil called oleuropein which prevents the LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and sticking to the walls of the arteries and forming plaque. Studies have shown that replacing other fats in your diet with olive oil can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack.

Olive Oil as a Cancer Inhibitor

In the January 2005 issue of Annals of Oncology, a study identified oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil, as being able to reduce the affect of an oncogene (a gene that will turn a host cell into a cancer cell). This particular oncogene is associated with the rapid growth of breast cancer tumors. The conclusion of the article was that oleic acid, when combined with drug therapy, encouraged the self-destruction of aggressive, treatment-resistant cancer cells thus destroying the cancer. Olive oil has been positively indicated in studies on prostate, colon, and endometrial cancers as well.

Control Blood Sugar with Olive Oil

Diabetics or those at risk for developing diabetes should eat are advised to include olive oil in their diet. Studies shown olive oil can help stabilize blood sugar levels when consumed in conjunction with carbohydrates. Olive oil is also linked to lower triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels have been identified as a heart disease risk factor.

Olive Oil has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The body can use the healthy fats in olive oil to produce natural anti-inflammatory agents that can help reduce the severity of both arthritis and asthma. Uninflamed cell membranes are better able to move healthy nutrients into the cells and move waste products out. A lower occurrence of osteoporosis and dementia is found in areas where people consume large quantities of olive oil.

Olive Oil can Help You Lose Weight

In the September 2003 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition published a study documenting a significant loss of body weight and fat mass can be achieved without increasing physical activity and making only one change in eating habits: substituting olive oil for saturated fats.

The eight men were divided into two groups and for four weeks ate similar foods. The first group ate more saturated than unsaturated fats while the second group consumed the same number of calories as the first group, but used olive oil instead. After four weeks, the men from the second group had lost weight and had a lower body-fat index than the men in the first group.

Important Information On Buying And Storing Olive Oil

Too much light and heat can turn olive oil rancid which destroys the healthy, antioxidant properties. Buy olive oil that is sold in darkly tinted bottles that aren’t near windows or glaring lights.

At home, store olive oil in a dark cupboard. You can even keep olive oil in the refrigerator, although that will make it cloudy and thicker. Always keep the cap on tight — exposure to air is another enemy of the fragile antioxidants.

Grades of Olive Oil

  • Extra-virgin olive oil is produced from the first pressing of the olives. It has the lightest flavor and contains the richest array of antioxidants.
  • Fine olive oil is produced from the next pressing of the olives.
  • Refined olive oil means that chemicals were used to extract the oil instead of pressing. Avoid refined olive oils.
  • Pure olive oil is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils.
  • If you see the words “cold pressed” on a bottle of olive oil it means heat was not used when extracting the oil. Remember, heat destroys antioxidants, so cold pressed is a good thing.

Final Thoughts

Olive oil is more expensive than other oils, so don’t be shocked at the price when you first start shopping. Some things are worth the extra money and your health, and the health of your family, is one of them!


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